The science may call it a coincidence, but circumstances have made me believe that there are certainly some mysterious forces around us. Born and brought up in a traditional society, I believe in miracles and unseen forces that act on us from time to time. When I was studying in Khaling, I had heard about the so-called Son-drey, the living ghosts. I was told that Son-dreys are the spirits of some women, especially from bad births, that wander at nights when their bodies are fast asleep. These spirits are often seen to travel with mysterious lights and are believed to often scratch people on their way with their long nails, making them sick. When these people recover from the attack, one can even see the scratches of human nails on the body. I had also been a victim of such an attack once. I was attacked on the chest and when I recovered after two weeks, I was told that some scratches were visible on my skin. I had also heard that these living ghosts are not always bad. They also sometimes tie a knot on your Kera (Bhutanese traditional belt), as a sign of good luck.
I am wondering if it’s a symptom of aging, but over the recent years, I often find myself contemplating on the universal truths about human life. It has been over thirty-four years since I have entered this world now and looking back on the journey I have made so far, I still feel empty with nothing at hand which is worth leaving behind when I am gone. The irony is that time flies without notice and just in a flash of seconds, we disappear into the dark before even we have fulfilled our dreams. Time never waits for anybody. It keeps on moving, dragging us along with it, to our final resting place where we will be ultimately left. It’s very sad that as days pile up, the world would soon forget us and thereafter, we dissolve into the real state of emptiness.
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At this time of the year, I warn you that there is a very bad flu hanging in the air waiting to fall upon anybody with weaker immune system. I have been engaged in a fierce war against the virus over the past one week or so and to be honest with you, I had a very terrible experience. Well, I guess I don’t have to describe the degree of pain and discomfort one experiences especially when the flu reaches its climax. Everybody must have gone through it at least a number of times. You may not believe me but I even wished if I had a supersonic jet to fly to the Poles because I have heard that in the polar region, you won’t catch cold since the virus cannot survive there. However, things are improving now and it seems I am ultimately winning the war. While I am about to declare victory over the virus now, I have learned a few lessons out of my own experience which I would like to share with you so that next time when you are challenged, you will have better weapons at hand to fight back. People say prevention is better than cure and it’s always important to be prepared well in advance so that you don’t have to panic at the last moment.
I don’t own a car because my wife can’t drive. She can see but she has no passion for driving. A few years back, she forced herself to learn how to drive out of necessity, but she lost all the little confidence she had developed, after she accidentally hit another car. I have a lot of passion for driving, but I have no sight. What a tragic mismatch! When I was able to see the world as a child, I still remember that my ambition was to become a truck driver but it could never materialize. So whenever I walk to and from my office or roam in the town, I often meet my friends driving nice family cars. Looking at such a comfortable and luxurious lifestyle they live, I feel they are luckier than me because they seem to have everything that can make them live their lives to the fullest. But they often tell me that I am luckier than them because since I don’t have a car, I don’t have to worry about the extra expenses incurred on the maintenance of the car and the fuel. In a way, I feel they are also right but the maintenance and fuel cost is definitely not the reason why I am not able to own a car.
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Today, the blind communities across the globe are together in spirit to observe the 205th birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the genius who has touched the lives of all the visually impaired people of the world. It was he who invented braille, the tactile system of alphabets used by blind people across the world to read and write. It’s through braille that the visually impaired people have accessed literature and pursue studies for over 200 years now. Braille is a tactile system of six dots in a 3X2 grid used to represent letters, numbers and symbols in many languages in the world. I sometimes wonder if there was no such a thing as braille, no blind would have got the opportunity to go to school even in Bhutan. Today, we have the alternative means of learning with the advent of advanced computer technologies but during my time, such technologies were not there. So on this special day, I must confess that I am extremely grateful to him for his great creation and we feel fortunate that he was born much earlier than us.
I don’t remember exactly which year it was, but I was returning to my school in Khaling from the long winter vacation. After waiting for a few days at Samdrup Jongkhar, I and my father could finally manage to get tickets to Khaling in a passenger-bus bound for Trashigang. It was a mini-bus as it was called during those days and its engine roared like that of a DCM truck. We boarded the bus at around 7 o’clock in the morning and began our journey to Khaling that could take about eight hours. I was seated near the driver.
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